Devon Bird Sightings from 15th–21st January 2018

Recent Winter Weather

I should like to include a piece on the effects on birds of the recent severe cold snap (26 February to 3 March) in the next 'Devon Birds'. Please send any accounts, observations and anecdotes to me ( and I will try and compile a single account (with of course, full acknowledgement of all contributors). Please include some weather notes - for instance, here in East Devon it was the glazed frost on the morning of 2 March that did the most damage, covering everything with a layer of ice and forming an icy crust on the lying snow. Many thanks.

Mike Lock

Posted March 9th at 11:52 am by Mike Daniels in General Birding

Devon Birds Records Committee

After serving as a member of the Committee for five years, Chris Townend will be standing down at the end of June 2018. Chris, who leads wildlife watching holidays through his own company 'Wise Birding', has been an active member of the Committee, and his consistently pragmatic approach to assessing records has proved invaluable. The Society would like to thank him for his contribution over the past five years and wish him well in the future.

A formal application to fill the vacancy has been received from Andrew Smith, from Buckfastleigh, which is supported by members of the Committee. Andy has been birding for over forty years and moving to Devon in 2015, Andy has since explored the County, regularly visiting Soar and South Huish during migration, whilst more locally he spends his time and surveying at Hembury and Holne Woods.

Over the last 20 years Andy has led over 130 bird and natural history tours, mainly for Naturetrek. His experience and knowledge from birdwatching in over 50 countries including much of the Western Palearctic will be especially useful to Devon Birds and the Records Committee.

Unless the County Recorder receives any other applications before 15th April 2018, Andy will be formally elected to fill the vacancy for a five year period.

For more information and/or an application form please contact: Kevin Rylands, County Recorder. Email:

Posted February 21st at 11:01 am by Mike Daniels in General Birding


If you follow our Blog but are not currently a member of Devon Birds please consider joining Devon Birds to help us with the upkeep of running the website and this service as well as our valuable conservation work .

Posted October 10th, 2016 at 9:14 am by George & Julia Harris in General Birding

Sightings Page Changes

Acting on comments to Devon Birds some changes have been made to this page. To the right of this header post you'll see there are now several subjects for you to choose to read and post on. Just click your chosen subject and use as previously.

Please be careful not to post under the wrong subject. If you do, you can still easily go back to edit and change the subject yourself so it appears on the right page.

Please try and keep posts short, particularly in the Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts page. Photographs are still very welcome.  

For help with ID email photos to

Posted June 30th, 2016 at 9:24 pm by George & Julia Harris in General Birding

Sunday 21st January 2018

Beesands - Ring-necked duck

As there are already a few pics of the drake ring necked duck on Twitter, thought I would put a couple on Devon Birds! Thanks Terry Goddard for the good find! Also pleased to see the 5 pochard and a couple of little grebe! 

Ring necked duck - Beesands - 21/01/2018 Ring necked duck - Beesands -21/01/2018 Little Grebe - Beesands - 21/01/2018
                  Ring necked duck - Beesands - 21/01/2018                       Little Grebe - Beesands - 21/01/2018

Posted January 21st at 5:30 pm by David Pakes in General Birding


The adult Bonaparte's Gull was off Shelly Beach @1430. Also a fw Glaucous Gull on Bull Hill and a Great Northern Diver off there. The Long-tailed Duck was viewed from the Quay (off Warren Pt). Off Maer Rocks - 3 immature drake Eider still, along with 13+ Common Scoter. Six Goldeneye off Mudbank and yesterday - c30/40+ Brambling - Sowden Lane and at least 1 Firecrest still behind the cricket club. Photos and further sightings on

Posted January 21st at 4:24 pm by Matt Knott in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Firecrests still present in Dawlish Warren

At least 2 Firecrests still present in gardens of Millin Way, Dawlish Warren. (Don't park in Millin Way as many residents get irate, use the beach carpark at Dawlish Warren).

The images featured were photographed from my house today (21 January)

A Further Firecrest has been showing very well this morning at dead dolphin wood, Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve.

Firecrest in Garden Millin Way Firecrest in Garden Millin Way Firecrest in Garden Millin Way
Firecrest in Garden Millin Way

Posted January 21st at 2:11 pm by Carole Leigh in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


From the hide today, 1 RING-NECKED DUCK (male) in with tufted duck and 5 Pochard

Posted January 21st at 11:50 am by Terry Goddard in General Birding

Barbican Plymouth

Just outside Sutton Harbour this morning a Great Northern Diver & 2 Guillemots.

Posted January 21st at 11:36 am by Martin Phillips in General Birding

Aveton Gifford

Woodcock flew over the A379 on way to Plymouth last night - very crepuscular!

Posted January 21st at 9:47 am by Rob Macklin in General Birding

Firecrest Dawlish Warren

Firecrest showing well in Dead Dolphin Wood 9am.

Posted January 21st at 9:31 am by Peter Leigh in General Birding

Hawfinch Longdown.County Record

Amazing 119 Hawfinches left the post roost gathering at Perridge estate Longdown this morning..Further birds were left calling in the Hornbeam woodland so the total is still unknown but certainly a new county record. 

Posted January 21st at 9:27 am by Roy Adams Hungarian Bird Tours in General Birding

Saturday 20th January 2018

Paignton Lucky Dip

A few pics from my Paignton garden (apologies for the quality but don't really have the camera):

This m Bullfinch has been visiting my garden for at least a year, bringing his wife and 3 kids last summer (I know it's the same one as, unfortunately, he has a fungal infection on both legs).

The m Blackcap is one of 2m coming to my fat feeders.

The pm was rounded off nicely with this stonking m Sparrowhawk (I've lived here nearly 3 years and it's only the 2nd time I've seen a m in the garden).

Bullfinch Blackcap Sparrowhawk
Bullfinch                                                           Blackcap                                Sparrowhawk

Posted January 20th at 8:48 pm by Dave Holloway in General Birding

South Huish Marsh

1 Spoonbill in to roost at South Huish Marsh late this afternoon.

Posted January 20th at 7:44 pm by Andy Smith in General Birding

Berry Head

The Iceland Gull showed very well off the top of the headland this afternoon - apparently it was present there all day. Can't make my mind up on age a pale juv/1w with strongly marked two tone bill - or well marked and dark eyed 2w?

Iceland Gull BH 200118ML 1 Iceland Gull BH 200118ML 2

Iceland Gull BH 200118ML 3 

Posted January 20th at 5:05 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Lower Tamar Lake

A dawn count at Lower Tamar Lake for Goosander showed 25, this was to check how many were staying on the lake at night, as I thought only a few stayed and the rest flew in during the day just to feed. (Wrong again!)

Posted January 20th at 4:55 pm by Rod Mudge in General Birding

Bolt Tail

Black-throated Diver east offshore.

Posted January 20th at 4:07 pm by Rob Macklin in General Birding

Teign Estuary

Black-throated Diver between Flow Point and Coombe Cellars this morning 08:30 - 09:00 at least. Also on the estuary 38 Shelducks, 29 Red-breasted Mergansers, 350+ Oystercatchers, 91 Curlew, 50+ Redshanks, 42 Dunlin, 14+ Turnstones, eight Ringed Plovers, five Avocets, four Common Sandpipers, two Greenshanks and a Kingfisher.

Posted January 20th at 3:33 pm by Will Salmon in General Birding

Plym Estuary & Saltram

Woodcock, Jack Snipe, Common Sandpiper, male Kingfisher, 17 Wigeon still around on the pool & 7 Little Grebes.

Posted January 20th at 2:47 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Littlegate Road, Paignton


2 Black Redstarts.  Initially a male and a female.  Female flew off in the direction of Well Street and did not return.  Male showed well but was mobile around the rooftops, chimney stacks and aerials in the area around the old Paignton Clink.  Showed well for a period in the small tree in front of 31-49 Littlegate Road.

Several Redwings over too. 

Posted January 20th at 2:30 pm by Paul Darlington in General Birding

Berry Head

The Iceland Gull still early afternoon circling very close off the end of Berry Head viewable from on top of the headland- also hundreds of auks , c25 Common Dolphin, 3 Harbour Porpoise.

Posted January 20th at 1:54 pm by Mark Bailey in General Birding

Stover Goosanders

A dawn count this morning proved that Goosanders are spending the night at Stover, with 23 (4 drakes) present at first light. When feeding commenced at 07:55, most of them headed into the inlet, outlet and other narrow channels, where close views could be obtained. I've never come across Goosanders habituated to humans before, but I assume the presence of tame Mallards has helped them to come to terms with us! Great photo opportunities to be had there ....

Other birds included 2 Snipe, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker and 2 Redpolls.

Posted January 20th at 11:37 am by Dave Smallshire in General Birding

Friday 19th January 2018

Brixham/Berry Head

The Iceland Gull was again off Berry Head this afternoon and followed a trawler toward Brixham before turning back toward the headland. Never close, this pale pale bird appeared to have an pretty much all dark bill which would make it a juv, but while it was settled on the water the bill appeared to have a more extensive pale base so it might well be a 2w, better too for plumage. 1 hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull on rocks at Berry Head too. 

video clip: 


Posted January 19th at 7:10 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

South Huish Marsh & South Milton Ley

After filling the feeders at South Milton Ley in the cold and rain, I spent some time looking at the many chiffchaffs by the STW, certainly 25 or more present. 2, possibly more, showing mainly grey plumage with pale buff breasts, no sign of yellow in flight,buff supercilium with black beaks and legs (one rung) gave clear ID of Siberian (tristis) rather than the greener (collybita) of the majority.(thanks to Alan Pomeroy for your recent hands on ID class during your ringing session) At South Huish Marsh I could only make out 3 Cattle Egret with the cattle in the kale field on the hill, whereas we have regularly been seeing a lot more at this location! Incidentally I had a Firecrest by the entrance gate at Aveton Gifford STW this week. There are a few in the village!

Posted January 19th at 6:15 pm by David Pakes in General Birding


Following Steve Hopper's directions we stood in the biting wind and sleet looking for Brambling. 3 were located with a large flock of chaffinch at Warren Road, Dartington, feeding on the beech mast and on the ground. Also a a single Yellowhammer in beech tree. Not easy to photograph due to hideous weather.


Posted January 19th at 6:06 pm by Steph Murphy in General Birding

Dawlish Warren & Haldon Forest

DW: Long-tailed Duck offshore plus 4 Great Northern Divers & 118 Great Crested Grebes. Slavonian Grebe off Cockwwod.

Haldon: Superb male Brambling on the feeders in car park plus 3 Siskin. No sign of any Crossbills on the trails.First Red Admiral of the year!

Posted January 19th at 4:47 pm by Rob Macklin in General Birding

Med Gull 19-01-18 Mountbatten Plymouth

A single Med Gull near the ferry crossing on Mount Batten side, showed very clearly, then flew of towards the coast


Posted January 19th at 4:36 pm by Greg Bradbury in General Birding

Great Northern Divers at Broadsands

3 Great Northern Divers in the bay this morning .

Posted January 19th at 11:58 am by Roy Adams Hungarian Bird Tours in General Birding

Thursday 18th January 2018

South Milton Reserve Reed Cut - POSTPONEMENT

The forecast for Sunday 21st is wet to very wet and so we have decided to postpone the reed cut planned for that day.  We hope to be able to carry our the cut in February and will let you know the date and soon as we fix it.

Nick Townsend

Posted January 18th at 7:28 pm by Nick Townsend in General Birding


A look at first light from the quay provided me with distant views of the Long-tailed Duck off shore from the Warren Point. Also 2 Great Northern Diver, 2 Eider, several Common Scoter and Slavonian Grebe near Cockwood.

More details

Posted January 18th at 7:03 pm by Spencer Dicks in General Birding

Garden Birds in Exwick

For most of this winter we have had 40-50 Goldfinches roosting overnight in a bay tree in the garden; they tend to arrive as it is starting to get dimpsy, and emerge as soon as it is reasonably light the following morning. Siskins are back at feeders earlier than usual this year, also this week we have had 1 Fieldfare, feeding on Crab Apples, plus a pair of Blackcaps.

Posted January 18th at 6:54 pm by Martin Overy in General Birding


The Long-tailed Duck present again late afternoon (1630hrs) off the mouth of the Exe, viewable from near the Rockfish restaurant. Also 3 Great Northern Divers there.

Posted January 18th at 6:51 pm by Terry Smith in General Birding

Haldon Crossbills etc

Good day at Haldon Forest, 9 Crossbill near the Forestry Commission building, Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Siskin, and one male Brambling briefly by the feeders (scared off by dogs and didn't return.

Common Crossbill Female Bullfinch Siskin
Common Crossbill                        Female Bullfinch                                           Siskin

Posted January 18th at 6:51 pm by Martin Rooney in General Birding


Spoonbill flying high over the A381 between Kingsbridge and Marlborough heading towards the coast, 16:45 today.

Posted January 18th at 6:07 pm by Richard Moore in General Birding

Plym Estuary

A short look late afternoon - 31 Turnstones & Kingfisher on Blagdon’s Meadow, 16+ Wigeon & 7 Goosanders (3m) at top end.

Posted January 18th at 5:49 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Powderham Marsh RSPB - 18/01/2018

Powderham marsh RSPB - 450+ Golden plover, 200+ Lapwing, 200+ Black-tailed godwit, Kingfisher, 30+ Redwing, 20+ Fieldfare, 20+ Cirl bunting, 10+ Stonechat, 35+ Linnet...

Posted January 18th at 4:40 pm by Nick Patel in General Birding


Some of the 40/50 Siskins regularly visiting feeders outside my office window in Broadwoodwidger. Woodpeckers,Nuthatches,TisandFinches also. 

Posted January 18th at 1:31 pm by David Boddy in General Birding

Black Redstart - Paignton

The over wintering male Black Redstart ( originally found by Andy P in November) still present this morning on the roof of 31-49 Littlegate Road. It has also been seen on Well Street and Churchward Road)

Posted January 18th at 1:16 pm by Mark Bailey in General Birding

South Huish & Aveton Gifford.

South Huish Marsh / South Milton beach ~ Stonechat, Black Tailed Godwit, Oyster catcher, Little Egret, Lapwing, Pied Wagtail, a small number of Pipits moving around certainly Rock and Meadow and possibly a Water Pipit as well, Teal, Wigeon, Great Black Backed Gull and Buzzard.

On the rocks 3 Ringed Plover and 5 Turnstone.

Aveton Gifford ~ Common Sandpiper 3, Greenshank 4, Redshank, Oyster Catcher, Buzzard, Curlew, Little Grebe 3, Kingfisher, Song Thrush, Stock Dove and Grey Wagtail.

On the way back home to South Brent several Buzzards and a Sparrow Hawk near California Cross.

On the garden feeder this morning a female Siskin.

Posted January 18th at 1:07 pm by Steve Hopper in General Birding

Berry Head Icelandic Gull

Berry Head was alive withf sea birds this morning off the headland,Many Fulmar,Gannett.Fulmer,Kittiwake,Guillemotf,Razorbill  and Shags.The highlight was a adult Icelandic Gull mixing with the Kittiwakes.Also a Mediterranean Gull flew past.

Posted January 18th at 12:43 pm by Roy Adams Hungarian Bird Tours in General Birding

Exe Estuary cruise, 17 January

Belated news from yesterday afternoon's Stuart Lines cruise. After a Great Northern Diver off Exmouth sea front, there were two more inside the estuary, around Bull Hill. A Guillemot was lingering near to Exmouth marina, the usual Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood and c8 Great Crested Grebes were mainly in central parts of the estuary. Approx 290 Pintail between Lympstone Barracks and the mouth of the Clyst is the largest number I've ever seen on the Exe. A drake Goldeneye was at Topsham and 5, including 2 drakes, were off Cockwood. Good numbers of waders included 50+ Knot, 4 Greenshank, 100+ Grey Plover, c300 Golden Plover, c300 Avocets, c100 Bar-tailed and 500+ Black-tailed Godwits.

Posted January 18th at 10:08 am by Dave Smallshire in General Birding


Wednesday around midday, both the male and female Blackcap were on our feeders in the garden, along with the sparrows and bluetits.

Posted January 18th at 8:03 am by Kay and Gary Deare in General Birding

Wednesday 17th January 2018

Above cricket pavilion Exmouth

Bullfinch with a mixed finch flock 10.30 am today 

Posted January 17th at 8:45 pm by Marie Leahy in General Birding

Brixham and Broadsands

I braved the strong wind at the end of Brixham breakwater this morning (about 11 am) and was rewarded by the spectacle of large numbers of Gannets (about 200), with many diving into a shoal of fish not far off the oysterbeds.  As I watched, there was a flow of Gannets coming into Torbay to join the throng. Also, 7 Purple Sandpipers roosting on the derelict structure, in their usual place, and 2 Great Northern Divers just outside the harbout entrance.

After lunch, I went on to Broadsands, though I missed most of the birds mentioned by Mike.  There were 2 or 3 more Great Northern Divers, but all the Cirl Buntings seemed to have eaten the seeds and disappeared! Scanning the sea confirmed my estimate of the number of Gannets, with over 200 Gannet-shaped dots counted. There were also some distant (common) dolphins, perhaps also brought into the bay to feed on the shoal. 

Posted January 17th at 8:09 pm by Richard Swinbank in General Birding

Today's garden bird sightings ( Whimple )

Brambing Siskin regular visits this week, . some 300 plus fieldfair / redwing flock in field 

Posted January 17th at 7:38 pm by Peter Salter in General Birding

Bramblings Dartington

Three Brambling still with the Chaffinch flock on Deer Park Road, Dartington Hall.

Buzzard, Song Thrush and Jay also on site

Posted January 17th at 6:14 pm by Steve Hopper in General Birding


hawfinch seen at Topsham Cemetery this morning only one bird, and a waterpipit seen with several others at Colyford marsh, elsewhere around the site it was very quiet.

Posted January 17th at 5:10 pm by roger jewell in General Birding

Teigngrace cattle egrets

One bird present again this afternoon in solar panel field with sheep

Posted January 17th at 4:22 pm by Ken Dainton in General Birding


Wigeon have increased to 18 on Plym Estuary. Also Dipper showing well and  2 Kingfishers but only saw one Goosander today.

Firecrest , 10 Teal & Chiffchaff in Efford Marsh.

Posted January 17th at 2:39 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding


On the sea: 1 Black-throated Diver, 3 Red-throated Divers, 15 Great Northern Divers, 10 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Black-necked Grebe, 35 Cormorants, 40+ Shags, 200 + Auks

1 Firecrest in the masrh between the car parks, 1 Chiffchaff and 2 Goldcrest. 

33 Cirl Buntings, 3 Reed Buntings on seed in the 2nd car park.

Posted January 17th at 9:38 am by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Tuesday 16th January 2018


I had a female hawfinch feeding in my back garden in Woolwell on the outskirts of Plymouth.

Posted January 16th at 9:40 pm by Andy Quest in General Birding

Photographs of Firecrests in Millin Way, Dawlish Warren

The 3 Firecrests reported from my garden on Saturday, came back on Sunday and briefly on Monday.  Not seen them today. 

Posted January 16th at 8:14 pm by Carole Leigh in General Birding

River Plym, Marsh Mills area.

Walking on footpath south from Plymouth Road alongside River Plym under Devon Expressway flyover. Firecrest alone feeding in hedges, a finch/tit flock consisting of Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Great and Blue also contained at least five Siskin (2 males, 3 females). Birds were dropping down on to the footpath. Also excellent views of Dipper feeding in shallows of dropping tide.

Posted January 16th at 6:23 pm by Richard Smith in General Birding

Wembury Bay & Plymouth

Wembury Bay: Firecrest, Mediterranean Gull (ad-w), 8 Chiffchaffs & 4 Cirl Buntings.
Plym Estuary & Saltram: Woodcock, Jack Snipe, 3 Snipe, 14+ Wigeon & 2 Green Woodpeckers.
Cattewater: 2 Great Northern Divers & ad-w Mediterranean Gull.

Posted January 16th at 6:10 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Exmouth - 16/01/18

Group of a least 7 Purple Sandpipers with some Turnstones & Oystercatchers on Maer Rocks at around 2pm - also a Great Northern Diver in the channel opposite The Ocean

Posted January 16th at 5:02 pm by Chris Bollen in General Birding

Monday 15th January 2018

Plym Estuary

Goosanders now reached (record?) count of 9 (3 drakes). Also 52 Curlews on the pool, 8 Oystercatchers, 15 Wigeon, Great Northern Diver, Kingfisher & 5 Little Grebes.

Posted January 15th at 5:51 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding


Probably should have posted this earlier, so apologies. Rode along to Wrafton Pond this morning before visiting the reserve, and spied a large flock of Canada Geese in the field between the scrape and Chivenor. Closer investigation revealed a Greylag Goose amongst them, and then further into the flock a PINK-FOOTED GOOSE. Still lots of Tits and FInches in the reserve.

Ringing yesterday produced a further 6 Reed Buntings amongst the usual suspects.

Posted January 15th at 5:25 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding

Slapton / Torcross 14th Jan

Successful run down to Slapton on Sunday, Slav. Grebe, Gadwall, Goldeneye, 3 x Water Rails, Kingfisher, Cettis, and a report of a Bittern flying across the Ley,...not seen personally.

Posted January 15th at 4:24 pm by Trevor Leaman in General Birding

Taw, Barnstaple

Pair of Goosander just downstream of the new bridge, plus another male close by. About 90 Brent Geese grazing in the marsh nearby next to the Tarka Trail.

Posted January 15th at 2:40 pm by Richard Hannington in General Birding

Slapton Ley.

A SLAVONIAN Grebe at Torcross. A typical cleanly marked individual, but confusingly in the same location as the 2 Black. Necks that have been present ,on and off for at least a fortnight.

Posted January 15th at 1:52 pm by Alan K. Searle in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Matford Pools

The drake American Wigeon still present on the second pool up showing very well at 1300hrs.

Posted January 15th at 1:39 pm by Terry Smith in General Birding

Annual BNA bird watching bonanza

Good turnout of members arrived at Darts Farm to see large flocks of Brent geese, and black tailed godwits spooked by a peregrine. Chiff chaff down by the hide. Then a hawfinch (or possible second one) at Topsham cemetery. Good selection of ducks at Bowling Green Marsh including wigeon, shoveller, tufted and pintail. A posing kingfisher and then large gatherings of avocets and golden plover from the Goat Walk plus red breasted mergansers.

Posted January 15th at 12:14 pm by Brian Sims in General Birding

Laira Plymouth

Firecrest & Blackcap seen this morning in the garden.

Posted January 15th at 11:11 am by Martin Phillips in General Birding

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